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State of the University

Greetings, Trinity Family!

It is hard to believe that we are nearly halfway through the fall semester at Trinity. Much has happened since I last wrote, and I want to catch you up on just a few of the major happenings.

I get the sense that our students (wherever they may be studying), as well as faculty and staff, have all begun to find a rhythm to a very different semester. Whether in person, remotely, or a combination of both, Trinity’s faculty have completely redesigned the way they teach. I am happy to report that classes remain rigorous, but our professors have been flexible, given our circumstances.

Some students, including most of our first-years, are living on campus. Others reside off campus in San Antonio but study on campus. Others are completely remote. We continue to be cautiously optimistic about completing the modified fall semester as planned. I am pleased to report that our COVID-19 positivity numbers remain very low, and I attribute that to everyone on campus taking virus prevention and protection matters seriously.

While I long for the day for us all to be together on campus, it’s easy to recognize that our steps to de-densify the Trinity campus have made a difference. Even so, our situation is fragile, and an outbreak could force us to change plans once again. As you might imagine, COVID-19 has factored into nearly every decision we have made since the spring.

But we face other seismic issues as well. The nightmarish events of summer continue to remind us that—as a campus and as a nation—we still have work to do to ensure racial justice in our society. Trinity has come a long way in its 150 years, and we have further to go to reach the full expression of “intentional inclusion” as a core value. The most moving stories I hear from alumni relate to their experiences of “inclusion”—being included in a mentoring relationship with a faculty member, with peers in a social organization or athletic team, or in a friendship that endures long beyond graduation day. We want to ensure that all students fully experience these bonds.

This summer, I formed the President’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion. The group was charged with recommending ways to remove obstacles that prevent inclusion, to establish systems that promote inclusive relationships, and to identify strategies for developing an active anti-racist attitude on our campus.

The Task Force submitted their report in August, and it included 29 recommendations. I encourage you to read the report on our Diversity and Inclusion website. What I am struck most by is the interdependencies in their recommendations. Our Academic Affairs and Student Life divisions are already working more closely with one another to implement programs and systems that see the “whole” student and different student demographics. This will allow us to better understand and anticipate our students’ needs.

I’m also delighted to announce our new “Trinity Community Investment,” a partnership with the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) that will make a Trinity education accessible to the top graduating seniors within the district, regardless of financial need.

Working together with the SAISD, we will identify promising high school students, assist them in the application process, and provide them with the financial resources and academic support to make their time at Trinity successful. Through this program, we can better target high achieving students, particularly those who may be from first-generation or low-income families.

Despite this surreal time, our current students continue to thrive. Over the summer, Trinity students took on internships, launched businesses, and discovered new truths about themselves and the world. Almost 150 students engaged in summer experiential learning, mentored by 67 faculty members across 27 academic departments.

Trinity’s signature Louis H. Stumberg Venture Competition has resumed remotely, and budding entrepreneurs continue to pitch their inventions and ideas for a chance to win mentorship and funding for their startup. Even the performing arts at Trinity are enduring in a COVID-19 world. The Trinity University Players recently performed a student-written production, What We Have - A Zoom Play on Intimacy, directed and performed on Zoom. The play explores the effects of technology, isolation, and connection. I am so proud of our students, and I continue to be amazed by their resiliency.

Finally, I’d like to re-emphasize that I am committed to moving forward with Trinity’s efforts to accelerate our journey to become a nationally recognized, top liberal arts and sciences university. The pandemic has only hastened the demographic and cultural changes that will increase competition among elite schools for the best and brightest students. Enrollment, retention, and alumni participation are key factors in determining this national recognition.

These hard times won’t last forever. Thanks in part to Trinity’s endowment and strong financial footing, we will emerge from this pandemic economically stronger than many of our peer or aspirant schools. These demographic and economic shifts will wait on no one, and we mustn't wait, either.

Thank you for your continued support of Trinity. I am so grateful for our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends who allow us to remain a force in motion.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay strong.

Sincerely,
Danny J. Anderson
President, Trinity University

As Trinity's chief storyteller, I love to share news about the University. But I also love hearing from you. Please feel free to contact me at TUPresident@trinity.edu. Also, follow me on Twitter @TU_President19 or follow conversations on my website at president.trinity.edu.